‘Urgent’ improvements needed at SQA and Education Scotland say MSPs

Written by Tom Freeman on 18 January 2017 in News

MSPs on the Education and Skills Committee report concerns over roles of top education quangos

Scotland’s top education quangos need to make improvements in the way they support teachers, a Holyrood committee has advised.

After hearing evidence from teachers and representatives of the individual bodies, MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills committee has issued recommendations to the Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA), Education Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.

SQA, in particular has been told it needs to do “urgent work” to “rebuild its relationship with teachers”, including cutting down on errors in exam papers.


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The advice follows anonymised evidence from teachers which told of “excessive and unclear guidance, complex administration and mistakes in exam papers”, especially surrounding the introduction of new Curriculum for Excellence qualifications.

The report recommends the agency improve the design of the qualifications and support given to teachers.

Education Scotland has been told to provide clarity on who is responsible for what amid questions over how it can design the curriculum and inspect schools.

Committee Convener, James Dornan MSP said evidence from teachers had been “nothing less than eye opening”.

“We heard first-hand about the time-consuming burden of guidance that has been placed on teachers, something the Cabinet Secretary has already shown his commitment to deal with,” he said.

“However, there continues to be confusing and contradictory messages coming from the very bodies that should be making it easy for our teachers to focus on the needs of our children.

“We were able to tell these big organisations in no uncertain terms how their actions impact on teachers.

“The Committee found it hard to understand how, in particular, the SQA has met the needs of Scotland’s learners having designed qualifications that have created a huge workload for teachers and led to a breakdown in trust and threats of industrial action.”

The Committee’s report also raises concern about the impact of the ongoing Enterprise and Skills Review on the Scottish Funding Council. The review has proposed merging the boards of several enterprise agencies into a national board chaired by a government minister.

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